BR and Newman Advance to Face Off

BR and Newman Advance to Face Off in Anticipated Junior Hockey Championship
Posted on 04/30/2024
HockeyBy Larry Moko

Many of the most talented Grade 9 and 10 hockey players in Hamilton put on another dazzling exhibition Monday.

In simultaneous, side-by-side Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic  junior high school semifinals at the Quad Pad arena, the Bishop Ryan Celtics defeated the St. Thomas More Knights, 4-1, while the St. John Henry Newman Cardinals edged the Bishop Tonnos Titans, 2-1.

Spectators taking in the Newman-Tonnos contest could sense by the crowd’s loud cheers that something special was happening on the neighbouring ice surface.

“It was a battle of the OHL draft picks in net,” Newman coach Matt Pritchard said of his team’s contest.

Goaltender Jacob Ceranic of the Titans was recently selected by the North Bay Battalion (10th round, 198th overall) and Owen Papp of the Cardinals got chosen by the Erie Otters (14th round, 268th overall).

“Both goalies showed all the fans in attendance why they were drafted,” Pritchard added. “We had 35 shots on Jacob Ceranic and scored two playoff-style goals with rebounds and traffic in front.  Hats off to him for another great performance.”

Ceranic and Papp were also prominent for their respective varsity high school squads in the 2023-24 playoffs.

“Owen kept us in this game, making 20 saves,” the Newman coach said. “A few of them were timely, late in the third period, to keep us tied before we pulled ahead.”

Jesse Jones opened the scoring for the Cardinals and Sam Gall netted the winner with just under two minutes remaining. Deson Moriarity assisted on both.

Lucas Di Felice accounted the Tonnos’ goal in the second period.

Five schools participated in a round-robin schedule with the top four advancing to the playoffs. Bishop Ryan finished in first place and has yet to lose in its five starts.

It’s the third year for the junior format.

“The talent level this year is pretty high,” said Celtics coach Justin Cannon. “We were talking about that as coaches. It’s probably the best junior program we’ve seen across all of the teams.”

Bishop Ryan built a 4-1 lead on goals by Colton Vanderelzen, Mason Hunks, Boston Strauch and Luca Moretuzzo. Assists went to Hunks, Strauch, Cameron Schweitzer and  Brett MacQueen.

More replied on Liam Ryerson’s deflection of teammate Jeremy Duck’s shot and Levi Pavao’s third-period power-play marker.

The Celtics had the majority of the scoring opportunities.

“We had no sustained offensive pressure or presence,” said More coach Jason Popovic. “Our goalie (Anthony Bukvic) was tremendous. He’s the most technically sound goalie I’ve seen around here.”

More was last year’s junior champion. Bishop Tonnos took top honours in 2022.

“There’s a lot of parity in the league,” Popovic said. “It was nice, clean hockey.”

Cannon said his team has consistently out-worked the opposition.

“We’ve got a mix of Grade 9s and 10s this year,” he said. “They’ve been excellent.

“Two varsity team veterans, Levi Snider and Michael Alford, have been carrying the team. They’ve been unbelievable, scoring shorthanded goals, power-play goals and at even strength. We use them everywhere.”

Said Alford: “We have good chemistry out there on the ice. We had a good varsity team, as well. It’s really fun.”

BR also defeated More during the round-robin, 4-1.

The league championship is scheduled for Tuesday, April 30 at 3:30 p.m. at the Quad Pad.

Photos by Bob Butrym, RFB Sport Photography

More photos on the HWCDSB Athletics Facebook page here